Rob Cowan’s golf prowess leads him to some interesting places. This week the Wellesley resident travelled to Lima, Peru to compete for the Manuel Prado Cup and Carlos Raffo A. Cup. Along with teammate Dave Bunker, he’s representing the Golf Association of Ontario for his fifth time at this competition.“We play a ton of golf together so it is a very comfortable team,” Cowan said via email from Peru. “I was very cognizant of the ranking points right up to the Canadian [Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship] and only when Garrett Rank won the playoff did I fall to third. I did however secretly hope he would still be on the ice, as I really love coming down here.”
When Elmira resident Rank had to drop out due to NHL refereeing, Cowan got the call. Cowan took home the “Champion of Champions” title last June at the GAO’s club championship tournament. He said the season went fairly well for him after that.
“I won a couple of matches at the Ontario Match Play Championships with the kids (my three opponents were all 19 years old) and finished fifth at the Ontario Mid-Amateur Championship, and 20th at the Amateur again with the kids,” Cowan said. “I won the club championship at Westmount for the tenth time in a row and the 15th total. A 22nd finish at the Canadian Mid-Amateur in Barrie in September got me to enough total ranking points to finish the year third ranked Mid Amateur in Ontario.”
The tournament in Peru started on Wednesday and runs through Saturday. They played two practice rounds on Monday and a final one on Tuesday to get adjusted to the course. He said most of the other teams are from South and Central America and with warmer weather there than here, their season is well underway.
“I love the golf course, as it is a good layout and most of the trouble is well placed so you need to decide if a particular shot selection is worth it or not,” Cowan said. “I have a bit of trouble with the Bermuda greens as the grain is very prominent.
The team competition takes the two members’ scores over the four days and the lowest aggregate is the winner. For the individual competition, the lowest score after 72 holes is declared the winner. The tournament is always at the same location and in April, so they seldom have a chance to play or practice and be tournament ready, but they do what they can to prepare, he said.
“Some of the guys we see year over year but always a lot of new faces,” Cowan said. “We get to meet different golfers from all over so sometimes we get to make some connections too. Many of the South American countries are their best players, so there are a lot of kids here, too. Only Canada and USA send Mid-Amateurs.”
Lima Golf Club hosts the event and it’s been running since 1988. The tournament is open to players with three or less handicaps and brings in amateur golfers from across the Americas and Europe. The competition is divided into four rounds.
He said they usually don’t get to see too much of Peru beside the airport, hotel and golf course. But they made time on Monday to head to the Inca markets in Miraflores to try to find some Peru souvenirs to take home. They do that every time as well as a night at a plaza on the coast, where they’re likely to see a beautiful sunrise.
As the season’s only just begun here in Canada for golf, Cowan doesn’t think they’re likely to win the tournament. But he’s still got personal goals he’s working on.
“I believe mid-season we could absolutely have a shot at a win, but I think we would both be happy if we could have our best finish,” Cowan said. “I think we were sixth in 2011, so top five would be good. Individually I had one year where I was fifteenth I think, so anything better than that would be great. I would love to see four rounds around par, with at least one round under par.”